FOR THE FUTURE OF EDOS in NIGERIAN BODY POLITIC
EDO SHOULD BE THE �MODERN FULANI�
Being the Keynote Address delivered at the 2002
National Convention of the Edo National Association in
the Americas at San Francisco, CA on Saturday
September 1, 2002.
Professor Omo Omoruyi, mni
PO Box 532
Somerville, MA 02143
FELICITATION AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT
I wish to congratulate the leadership of the
Edo National Association on the successful convocation
of this year�s Convention.
I also wish to thank the national leadership
of the Edo National Association for the invitation
extended to me to be the Keynote Speaker at this
year�s National Convention. It is an honor done me
to bare my mind.
I wish to acknowledge the presence of
distinguished leaders of our people from home who have
come to grace this Convention.
I am extremely delighted to be able to meet
those who are running for one office or the other and
exchange views with them.
TIMELINESS OF THE TOPIC
At a time when the ascent is on the quest for
�ethnic Presidency� in Nigeria outside the known
political parties, I am not surprised that I should be
faced with the topic of this lecture, �The Future of
the Edos in the Body Politic of Nigeria�. The topic
is timely; it is for you to put your heads together
and chart a path for our people.
My job is not to lay down the law or lecture
you, but to make some suggestions or provide a road
map or lead in the discussion of this important topic,
�The Future of the Edos in Nigerian Body Politic�.
VISION AT HEART OF OUR PROBLEM
I read the submission of the last year�s
Speaker, Professor Nosa Igiebor. What I shall be
speaking on this year is a kind of an anti-climax.
Or maybe, after digesting what Professor Igiebor had
to say last year about the Edo State Government, the
leadership came to a new thinking. Maybe the issues
identified by eminent Professor Igiebor must have
arisen from a lack of visionary leadership in the
country in general and in the Edo State in particular.
Maybe instead of the catalog of what went wrong with
the Edo State Government, we should focus on the issue
I am on record in many of my publications and
discussions with some of you that we are what we are
because we do not have a Vision. The Biblical
injunction is still there that �A People Without
Vision Perish�. It is my prayer and I am sure of all
of you that the Edos as a people would not and should
not be allowed to perish. If we do not want to
perish, then we need to have a VISION. Let us look at
the assumptions in the topic of the talk.
ASSUMPTIONS IN THE TOPIC
The first assumption is that the Edos have no
choice but to stay put in the body politic called
Nigeria that has no VISION. Is this possible?
The second assumption is how to make the best
of the bad situation in Nigeria in which we find
I share your faith in and your commitment to
the Edo community and to one Nigeria.
I also share your determination and your
commitment to seek a �Future for the Edos in the
Nigerian Body Politic�, no matter how bad the country
EDO SHOULD AIM AT A JUST SOCIETY
Much as the foregoing goals are lofty, I believe
that there should be a third and an equally important
goal for the Edos in Nigeria, which is a just society.
I strongly urge the Edos to be in the forefront in
pushing for the fundamental restructuring of Nigeria.
A restructured Nigeria means a Nigeria that grows out
of the discussion or dialogue among the ethnic
nationalities and not the unjust political order that
was forced on the multi-society since 1914 and
perpetuated since 1960. It is not working. It
failed since 1960 to address two questions: how the
various groups can live together in peace and how the
multi-ethnic society can be governed.
I believe that one of the objectives of the Edo
National Association should be on how to assist the
Edo political class push for and achieve the end of a
just society. In a just society envisaged, the
various groups would relate to one another as
functional equals no matter how large the population
might be and the government of Nigeria will be truly
federal and not the one forced on the country by the
military. Four issues come to mind.
One, should the goal for the fundamental
restructuring fail, what should be the position of
Edos in Nigeria?
Two, should Nigeria remain ungovernable what
should or would be the position of the Edos in a
Three, should the need for us to work with
others for a position or positions arise, who shall we
Four, shall we work alone, if we find it
impossible to work with others?
These four questions resemble the issues that
faced the Yoruba people in 1967. It is like posing
the question Chief Obafemi posed to the Federal
Military Government of Nigeria in 1967. To
paraphrase what the sage said, if by an act of
omission or commission, the Igbos were allowed to
leave the Federation, the Yorubas would leave. This
was when the Yoruba started to develop their Vision in
How the Yoruba evolved a Vision should be an
object lesson for the Edos. I was a witness to how
the Yoruba under the auspices of the Odu�a
organization worldwide worked after 1993. The Yoruba
of all political persuasions had virtually perfected a
plan to be on their own or secede from Nigeria when it
became ungovernable after the protracted crisis over
the June 12.
Today, it is an open secret that there is a
Yoruba Agenda evolved since then in print and known to
all Yoruba political leaders in all political parties.
The northern leaders had theirs since the 60s and
know the Yoruba leaders have theirs. Unfortunately
the Northern leaders and the Yoruba leaders know that
only the Ndi Igbo and the south-south are still the
areas of Nigeria that cannot boast of a clear Vision
or an Agenda for themselves and for Nigeria. Did
this lack of Vision not become evident after the death
General Abacha? Is it not still evident today?
Still talking of the Yoruba, for example as soon
as General Abacha died, both sides of the northern
clique (military and civilian) were in agreement on
certain facts under the auspices of the military wing
of the northern clique. The military wing of the
northern clique did not dispute the fact that a
northerner should not be an elected President in view
of the annulment of the June 12 won by a Yoruba
person. This was why the northern military officers
prevailed on the civilian wing of the northern clique
to allow for a tactical retreat from the general
overall strategic plan (VISION) of the north in
Nigeria. This was the explanation for the tactical
decision under which the north agreed that a Yoruba
person, NOT a southerner for that matter, should be
made the President in order to have �peace� in
Nigeria. This was why the north agreed that that the
projected Yoruba President should be one from his past
dealing with the north be able to operate within the
�northern strategic plan� (VISION) and accommodate the
�ramparts� (elements of the VISION) the northern
leaders have been guarding and guiding since 1960.
This was why they quickly settled on the person of
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who served them well within
the northern VISION in the past. It is now an open
secret that it was General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida
that packaged the deal. This tactical deal did not
include what would happen to the Igbo and the southern
minority and it did NOT include such issues as zoning,
rotation and power shift after one term.
On the issue of Vision and how the Edos could
learn from the Yorubas, it should be noted that the
debate within the Yoruba leadership since 1998 is not
about the Yoruba Agenda. The debate within the
Yoruba political class is about the implementation of
the Yoruba Agenda. Quite unknown to the Ndi Igbo and
the south-south, the debate in 1998 in Yoruba land
after the death of Chief Abiola was not whether a
Yoruba person should assume the political leadership
of Nigeria but on which kind of Yoruba person.
Because of this agreement on Vision or Agenda in
Yoruba land, there seems to be an agreement on Vision
bothering on convergence in Yoruba land that was
hinted by the late Chief Bola Ige in 2000. I am
referring to what he told the Nigerian people that
President Obasanjo was implementing the Afenifere or
AD program or manifesto. Did the President
forcefully deny this? He did not.
Have the Edos as a people given thought to a
Vision or an Agenda within which political leaders can
debate? Just as the Yoruba resolved their political
quibbles within their Vision, would the Edos have a
Vision within which politicians would quibble and
contest elections in Nigeria?
GOVERNMENTAL PARALYSIS: SKEPTICISM/ PESSIMISM/
The Edo National Association should not assume
that the lingering political problems afflicting the
country would be resolved under the prevailing
visionless body politic. The prevailing Nigerian
political leadership at Abuja worries more on what
Washington would say than on what you Nigerians at
home and abroad would say about Nigeria.
In the country today, there is a paralysis at
all levels of government (federal, state and local
governments). This paralysis is in the legislative,
executive and judiciary. It is in this context that
you want me to discuss the Future of Edos in the
Nigerian Body Politic. It is in this context that we
are approaching the four-figure word, 2003 that may
turn out to be instead of a four-letter word, love,
The 2003 election has many unknowns. It is
being planned and to be executed by Nigerians who have
no faith in one-person one-vote and when many issues
germane to the election are still unresolved.
The country has revenue allocation crisis
arising from the political justice over the �off shore
and on shore�. Instead of the revenue allocation
debate by the Nigerian people, it is now part of the
2003 political gifts that the President as also a
candidate freely uses to win more friends. Of
course, the way the issue of oil is being handled in
the country since 1999 can only happen to the minority
enclave in the country.
The various ethnic groups are making mutually
frustrating demands on the country. It is
frightening that their demands are manifesting
themselves today within the politics of 2003. Who
knows how the lingering political problems afflicting
the country over the 2003 would end?
My views on 2003 are in print since 2001; I
cried aloud in 2001 that what we had in the
�Self-Succession Project� of OBJ is another annulment
because it would deny the Nigerian people their right
to political participation or their democratic rights.
This is the subject of my monograph, The Electoral
Act of 2001 is for Self-Succession without Contest.
The monograph contains four essays written and
published in Nigerian newspapers with the sole purpose
of alerting Nigerians that the �Self-Succession
Project� through the Electoral Act would lead to a
one-party/one-man rule in Nigeria. My question is
where are the pro-democracy forces in Nigeria?
Recently the �Self-Succession Project� formed
the basis of the three-part essay titled, Neither a
Candidate nor an Office Holder Be! It was the topic
of a special lecture I delivered at Vienna under the
auspices of the National Association of Nigerian
Community of Austria (NANCA) on August 15, 2002
titled, �2003 Election could be Free and Fair and may
not be Credible: Advice to the Political Class�. They
are still available for you to read.
It was while I was in Austria that the series
of development involving the House of Representatives
and the President on the one hand and the military on
the other became top news overshadowing the 2003.
Where is Nigeria heading? Whither Edo?
The Edo State must have what I call a
�Contingency Plan� in case the country remains
ungovernable. To react to the quest for a Future of
Edos in Nigerian Body Politic, Edo political class
should be in the forefront in pro-democracy forces as
former leaders did in 1966 in leading the
pro-federation forces. The history of Nigeria shows
that Chief Anthony Enahoro, our revered leader, was in
the forefront in both ventures in the past. He
should reclaim his original pro-democracy and
pro-federation credentials because that is what Edo
What the Edo National Association should do is
set up a Contingency Plan for the Edos that will be
addressing the foregoing situation.
I am aware that the topic of the lecture
assumes that the 2003 election would deliver a
credible outcome. Your topic assumes some optimism.
Why are you so optimistic? I am not pessimistic; I
am just skeptical. I thought I should throw this in
for us to think about in case the unexpected happens
from the pre-Election Day activities.
Of course, one would want to know in what
capacity I should be speaking to you? I can claim
to have been involved in many political decisions in
Nigeria in the past. I have dealt at the highest
levels with political/military leaders throughout the
country for a period spanning well over forty years
since 1959 when I first voted. You will have
opportunity to read the account of my political life
in a book soon. I shall not take a �fifth� if you
quiz me on my past.
I am not a politician; I am not a Chief; I do
not hold a public office in Edo land or at the Federal
level. What qualifies me to address you? I do not
expect you to answer this question. I am already
here, as your guest and you are duty bound to hear me.
I am just a pensioner and a retired Professor
by the grace of the distinguished Senator RS Owie.
I am an Edo-Nigerian resident in the US out of
circumstances beyond my control. I did not come to
the US in search of the proverbial �Golden Fleece�; I
came to the US and remain in the US since 1995 in
search of personal and NOT economic security.
I must use this medium to pay tribute to the
Bini Community of Massachusetts. At a time when both
sides of the Nigerian debate, the pro-June 12 and the
Abacha zealots would have nothing to do with me, they
received me. They have been generous in their love
for my family and me since I came to the US. They
surprised me one day with a gift of a Laptop, which I
now use to write anywhere.
For the record, let me mention few of the
members: the Osazuwas, the Ighiles, Attorney Osagiede,
the Ekhators, the Aiwerioghenes, Ms. Pat Abbe, Ms.
Florence Ohenhen, the Omorodions, the Osemwenkhaes,
the Omoregies, the Otokitis, Prince Ayo Eweka-Oluboje,
Ms. Violet Isibor, Mr. Skelly Enabulele, Prince Ekpen
Akenzua, Mr. Monday Adenomo, Ms. Josephine Erewa, Ms.
Esther Egesionu, Dr. Victor Manfredi alias
�Odionwere�. I cannot forget others outside Boston
area that from time to time call me to check on how I
am faring. In this category are Dr. Oboma Asemota,
Dr. Kienuwa Obaseki and Mr. Bazuaye.
It is with great pleasure that I am appearing
before you for the first time. I hope I will not
bore you down with unnecessary issues or personal
stories as I bare my mind on the subject of the
lecture. Since I may not have the opportunity of
this kind in my lifetime, I want to use it to the
There are few preliminary issues that I shall
try to raise as a way of launching into the topic.
FROM MY PAST, THERE ARE LESSONS FOR US
I have said and done many things in the past.
Let me dwell on my immediate past that is well known
to all. I am referring to the June 12.
This is my immediate past that some remember most and
would want to raise with me. It is part of my record
that I did not only manage the transition program, I
can state categorically that I delivered a democratic
election in 1993. As the Surgeon would say, �the
operation was successful but the patient died�. Why
did the patient die? This was a subject of a book,
The Tale of June 12; I would not like to dwell on the
What I�d like to say is not on the conduct of
June 12 Presidential election but on why I stuck to
the June 12, like the gramophone needle stuck on the
groove. I believe there are lessons for us as Edo
1. An Edo person should work for and defend the
right of the people to elect a government that governs
them. This was what I worked for in the past that
the votes of the states no matter how small are
critical to the election of the President. To me,
the vote is the voice of the people and should be
subject to the saying that the Voice of the people is
the voice of God. Since the people of Edo State were
in the forefront in the election of Chief Abiola, its
leaders should have stood behind that election.
I was the only person in the Presidency in
particular and in the government in general who dared
to pronounce on the June 12 while still in government.
I told the world on June 16, 1993 �The Presidential
Election was Free Fair and Credible�. Mark you, this
was before the annulment. This pronouncement was
published by the African Concord of June 28, 1993.
I was the only one who dared to pronounce that
the June 12 was �the best in the nation�s history�
after the military had annulled it. You will find
this in the Newswatch of July 5, 1993. And of
course, in subsequent pronouncements even when still
in Government, I predicted that the country would not
be the same again until the issues in the annulment
were resolved. Unfortunately. no one in Nigeria and
in Edo land ever asked me, what were these issues? I
can name some of the developments that arose from the
issues in the annulment such as
the emergence of General Sani Abacha in November 1993;
the Politics of Abacha;s self-succession;
the release of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo from Abacha�s
Gulag in June 1998;
the emergence of President Obasanjo in 1999;
the rejection of Dr. Alex Ekwueme;
the preference for Obasanjo to Chief Olu Falae; and
the politics of self-succession of 2003.
2. I learnt of the distinction between the written
and the unwritten qualifications for the office of
President of Nigeria. This fact does not seem to be
obvious to the political leaders of certain parts of
Nigeria including Edo State.
The written qualifications are in the
Constitution and in various laws on elections.
What are the unwritten qualifications for the
Office of President of Nigeria? Let me quickly
identify one. The area that produces the
Chairmanship of INEC is disqualified from producing
the President of Nigeria. Did the Edo political
leaders know this when the Edo State and by extension
the South-South in quick succession produced the two
Chairmen of INEC? They would have to remove Dr.
Abel Guobadia before their case can be heard.
From independence to date, the Chairmen of the
Election Commissions were drawn from �Non-President
Producing Areas (NPPA) of Nigeria according to the
unwritten qualifications. They are from Cross River
(EE Esua, Michael Ani,) Akwa Ibom (Okon Uya) Bendel
(Ovie-Whiskey) Anambra (Humphrey Nwosu), Abia (Eme
Awa) Rivers (Dagogo Jack), and Edo (Ephraim Akpata and
Abel Guobadia). The President Producing Areas (PPA)
of Nigeria have no need for the Chairmanship of the
Electoral Commission since 1960. Do you think it is
an accident that no northerner or Yoruba has even been
a Chairman of Election Commission since independence?
Do you think it is an accident that the power that be
would since 1950 throw it to the South-South and the
As we approach 2003, Nigerians in the North,
Southwest, Southeast and South-South have different
answers to this question, what are the unwritten
qualifications for President of Nigeria? Their
notion of the qualifications is usually different from
what we have in the Constitution. To the north and
the southwest, the south-south and the southeast are
the NPPA of Nigeria. Is this what the south-south
and the southeast want to change? We read of how
their leaders (Ohaneze and various groups in the
South-South) want to produce the President in 2003 in
spite of the unwritten rules.
Can the Ndi Igbo and the minorities in the
Niger-Delta produce the President of Nigeria in 2003
and beyond without the fundamental restructuring of
Nigeria? My view is that they must first of all work
to change these unwritten rules. The Edo people and
the south-south would have to remove Dr. Abel Guobadia
and reconstitute the INEC to have a level playing
field. This should have been the first demand;
Dr. Ogbemudia and CO would have made as they were
commencing the quest for a new direction for the old
Midwestern Region. Did they know that the old
Midwest has been the producer of the largest share of
Chairmen of Electoral Commission (Ovie-Whiskey, Akpata
and now Guobadia)?
3. An Edo person should speak his mind when issue
of injustice to a fellow Nigerian is involved. This
should be done even when others kept quiet. When an
Edo person sees injustice, he should talk and tell
Nigerians that injustice should not be condoned.
This is an ideal that I have been pursuing since 1993
after the annulment that if it could happen to one
Nigerian no matter where he came from, it could happen
to me. An Edo person should pursue justice and be
known for that.
The �Future of the Edos in the Nigerian Body
Politic� must be founded on the quest for justice.
Without justice, a minority like the Edos would be
doomed. You must constantly ask, if that can happen
to a well endowed group like the Yorubas, what would
be the fate of a small group like mine? The golden
rule of �do unto others� etc has equivalence in Edo
language as �Yaroro �egbe ghe�. An Edo person would
usually ask, �Agharuere ra�, meaning would you allow
that to happen to you?
I acted the way I did because it was the right
thing to do and more importantly as an Edo person.
This is what I expect an Edo person to do. It is
disturbing to me as an Edo that anywhere I go I am
constantly harassed by the anti-democratic statement
attributed to an Edo politician that there is no
vacancy in Aso Rock in 2003. That statement had
since then been interpreted to mean that 2003
Presidential election had been fixed before the
election. Does it no bother you as an Edo person
that this highest Edo person in government today,
Chief Tony Anenih is called by different names but
trustworthy and committed to upholding justice.
I had to wrestle with an issue in Vienna
recently raised by a knowledgeable Nigerian from the
north who knew I was an Edo person. He said,
�Minorities in the south-south especially from Edo
State are double dealers�. Of course, I flared up.
When he saw my countenance he quickly threw a poser,
�how one man from Edo State could be a facilitator or
�Mr. Fix It� to IBB, Abacha, Yar Adua, Abubakar and
Obasanjo in their political project�, I had no answer.
This person said that this was how Edo people
behave. I protested that it was not.
On a serious note, may I ask if this behavior
is within an Edo Agenda? If you know it is not and
if you know that his behavior is not part of the
attributes of Edo people, it is the duty of the Edo
National Association to call that person to order.
4. The fourth lesson is that if we are to have
a �Future in Nigerian Body Politic�, an Edo person
should have principle and should be acknowledged so by
others in Nigeria that an Edo person stands by that
principle. What are the Edos known for is basic to
the quest for a �Future of Edos in the Nigerian Body
Have you ever read of what people think of the
Yoruba person? I was amazed by the lamentation of
Chief Anthony Enahoro recently at the School of
Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) London. He
That the Yorubas don�t like to finish their
Chief Enahoro was generous in his
characterization of the Yoruba. Did the Yoruba ever
commence a struggle in the past? Do they believe in
a struggle at all?
The Yorubas do not believe in �a protracted
struggle� for a cause from what I knew of them in the
past, especially during 1993 episode. It would
appear that other groups in Nigeria hold this view
except Chief MKO Abiola. Chief Abiola believed in
his people that they would act and make the country
ungovernable until he was installed. Of course, they
failed Chief MKO Abiola. I knew how he felt about
some well-known Yoruba leaders when he sat on my
hospital bed in London in March 1994. You can still
read my tribute to him where I recalled this incidence
in Saturday Punch July 25, 1998 captioned �Secrets
Abiola told Me: How IBB, Dasuki, US Betrayed Him�.
The Yoruba leaders had the opportunity between
June and August 1993 to enforce the democratic rights
of Nigerians and the mandate of Chief MKO Abiola, if
they applied non-violent struggle to the demand.
What stopped them? It was not the military. What
stopped them was their lack of gut and commitment to a
protracted struggle for a cause.
General Chris M. Alli confirmed what I knew at
that time in his book, The Federal Republic of
Nigerian Army (Lagos 2001) that there was no organized
military that would have put down any civilian unrest
and demands for the actualization of June 12. I was
disappointed with the caliber of military officers
from the Yoruba land. In fact, Chief Abiola asked
this question on my hospital bed. In fact, Chief
Obafemi Awolowo knew this much in 1966 that the
Yorubas in the army were �ceremonial officers�.
Did the Yoruba leaders and those who then
became leaders of NADECO know that the army was in
factions? General Alli who was the Director of
Military Intelligence (DMI) during this period
analyzed the factions in his book. He demonstrated
that there was no visible faction behind the President
on the annulment. I said this much in my book, The
Tale of June 12. This was where I disagreed with my
fellow Edo man, Chief Tony Anenih. This brings me to
the fifth lesson, that an Edo person should facilitate
the goal attainment of another Edo person in public
5. The fifth lesson from my experience in the June 12
is that all Edo persons in government must facilitate
the goal attainment of other Edo persons in
government. One would like to first express dismay
with the poor working relation between the Minister of
Works and Housing and the former Chief Whip who were
both members of the same political party. One should
call into question the working relation between
members of key Committees in both Houses of the
National Assembly from Edo State on Edo matters.
These are cases where Edo actors frustrate the goal
attainment of other Edo actors
As an Edo person in government I tried to do
this. I wanted an Edo person in a position of
leadership in one of the two political parties to
succeed. I was open to Chief Anenih all the time
even at the risk of breaching security. I can vouch
for it that up till July 4 or 5, Chief Anenih and I
were in communication even during the night of June
22/23, 1993 while unknown to both of us the annulment
of the June 12 was being perfected. He constantly
phoned to ask me what was going on, which I expected
him to do as an Edo leader. I used to give him hints
to make him succeed as an Edo person who is a party
leader before and after the election.
I recall that for me and for the action that I
took, the Edo person who was the Resident Electoral
Commissioner (REC) in Bauchi would have been
disciplined for his breach of the rules governing the
election. I protected him but made sure the system
It was Chief Anenih who called me at about 12
midnight of June 12, 1993 that the Resident Electoral
Commissioner, an Edo person was planning to �rig the
election in Bauchi when he discovered that Chief
Abiola was leading in Bauchi�.
This was a serious charge. This was not all.
I asked; �how�?
He shouted �don�t you know that this NRC man
was put there by Admiral Aikhomu, who assumed all Edo
leaders that the north and the military were in
support of the NRC.�
I said, �Chief, you have not answered my
question.� and I asked again, �how is he going to rig
the election in Bauchi? He replied:
�he wants to postpone the
collation of results to the following day�.
I was in a dilemma; Chief Anenih making this
serious report was from Uromi and the REC was from
Ubiaja and his insinuation as to the man behind the
Ubiaja man was from Irrua, all from Edo. I had a job
to do, that is promote the election according to the
rules and at the same time make sure that the Edo man
did not lose his job. My official in Bauchi
confirmed Chief Anenih�s alarm. The action I quickly
took was to get the Chairman of the NEC to call the
fellow to order without blowing the security whistle
on him and that worked.
If Chief Anenih, an Edo leader had called me
another Edo leader in a political position before he
yielded to the overture for an Interim National
Government, maybe the history of Nigeria would have
been different today.
I would have told him to stick to the position
taken at Benin on July 5, 1993 by his party to reject
annulment. What would the military have done?
Nothing because there was nothing so called the
Nigerian Army committed to putting down any
insurrection at that time. What would IBB have done
with the army in factions according to General Alli?
I knew as of fact that IBB was preoccupied with
�safety, exit and survival� that I handled for and
with him after the annulment. IBB can say all kinds
of things today. What I went through during this
period in pursuit of these goals for and with him is
better left to God that saw me through the travail
after August 27, 1993 and to be alive today.
6. We cannot discuss the �Future of the Edos in
the Nigerian Body Politic�, if we do not know what
would the Edo people have done, if the Edo person is
denied his right in Nigeria. If as the Edo saying
goes, �if what reaches our hands is not allowed to
reach our mouth� what would we do? The question is
what would the Edo people fight for?
You saw what Chief Ovie Kokori, an Urhobo-Edo
could do even under General Abacha�s regime in 1994.
If he were to have the support of the organized labor
in Lagos, the political history of Nigeria would have
been different today. This is contained in my
monograph, The Trial of Chief Abiola, which I put
together from the notes I kept on this episode during
IDENTITY QUESTION: WHAT OTHERS THINK OF EDO PEOPLE?
I want to explore another area of the lecture.
This has to do with inter-ethnic group comments from
inter-ethnic attitudes in Nigeria. Let me name
some. In conversations among Nigerians, you hear of
such comments as �you cannot trust this or that� or
�this person or this group is an empire builder� or
�this group is a power grabber�. Which one is the
Edo? Which one should Edos aspire to be, an
untrustworthy person, an empire builder, or a mere
Let me use the expressions of two eminent
Nigerians as a take off to my lecture. The first is
one by an eminent legal luminary in Nigeria, Professor
Ben Nwabueze in his book, Nigeria �93: the Political
Crisis and Solutions (Ibadan, Spectrum Books 1994).
The second is by a noted Kanuri politician, Mallam
Adamu Ciroma in his characterization of the Fulani in
Professor Nwabueze, on the HAUSA/FULANIMAN
used Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed, the Secretary to the
Government of the Federation under President Babangida
to make his point. After paying tribute to him for
his kindness and competence, came to the conclusion:
that he (Alhaji Aliyu Mohammed) was too
Hausa/Fulaniman for the office he
national office being a kind of clearing
house in all
Federal Government matters�.p. 19
This means that there are certain attributes
when stated can adequately describe �an
Hausa/Fulaniman�. What are these attributes? How
are they different from others? This is a
distinguished lawyer speaking. This is not even a
person on the street.
Professor Ben Nwabueze on the Yoruba, has this
to say: Nice and friendly, as they are,the Yorubas
have no sense of fraternity with other ethnic groups
in Nigeria when it comes to federal appointments.
He went on They see nothing wrong in monopolizing all
positions in a federal establishment,from messenger to
Chief executive. To them that is how it should
be,the natural order of things.
Any Nigerian in their midst, in such an
establishment is resented as an unwanted intruder.
Professor Nwabueze came to the conclusion It is for
this reason that a serious fear is created in the
minds of other Nigerians that after two successive
terms (eight years) of a Yoruba President, many
federal establishments would have become thoroughly
What we should note is that he wrote this in
1994; he was trying to make a case for the action,
which some Igbo leaders took about June 12.
According to the distinguished Professor of Law, the
Igbos were afraid of an eight years under an Abiola, a
Yoruba. They were afraid that he would make the
country a Yoruba country. He did not revise his book
after President Obasanjo, another Yoruba person from
the same place as Chief Abiola was sworn in, in 1999.
Is he still hanging on to his view in view of the
�self-succession� plan of President Obasanjo that Igbo
leaders already characterize as a �pathological Igbo
hater�? Is this view at the root of the Igbo campaign
for 2003 at all cost?
Because of the role I played in the
Constituent Assembly in 1977/78, Mallam Adamu Ciroma
called me the �Modern Fulani�. He led me into how
the traditional Fulani behaved in the past. It was
from I learnt of the attitude of the Kanuri to the
Fulani that is still in vogue in burial practice of
the Kanuri till today. That was when I was made to
appreciate what a Fulani is, a small group that plays
a role far beyond its numerical strength.
The Fulani, small as it, was as a group in the
past that was able to sack the Habe rulers in the far
North, the Nupe in Bida and the Yoruba in Ilorin.
Finally, the Fulani was able to give these places
Fulani Islamic Rulers and establish the Caliphate.
Can Edo be a �Modern Fulani�? Edo, like the Fulani,
built an empire in the past. How did our forefathers
do it? Can Edo do it today and if not why not?
How was my action in 1977/78 manifesting as the method
of traditional Fulani?
Mallam Adamu saw my attempt to turn the
minority caucus in Nigeria into the Fourth Dimension
and make it into a dominant political organization in
Nigeria. Was this not like the action the Fulani
took in the past? This was how the Fulani took over
the North and consequently Nigeria. For the detail
analysis of the episode see Omo Omoruyi, Beyond the
Tripod in Nigerian Politics (2001).
EDO AS �MODERN FULANI�
So when Professor Nwabueze called Alhaji Aliyu
Mohammed �as too much a Hausa/Fulaniman� or when
Mallam Adamu called me the �Modern Fulani�, one should
appreciate that a small group like the Fulani can
achieve two objectives in Nigerian politics if and
only if that group has a Vision.
One, a small and determined group led by a
visionary leadership can be relevant in a country
dominated by many big ethnic nationalities. What we
should appreciate is that these major groups are
pursuing mutually conflicting agenda.
Since independence, the leaders of the tripod
are likely to adopt two strategies to achieve their
political agenda. One is to play one against the
other. The north perfected this in 1959 and in 1979.
The other is to seek friends from the minorities in
the north and in the south. Again the north is adept
at this especially since 1979.
Two and more importantly, a small group like the
�Modern Fulani� can fundamentally restructure the
Nigerian society and politics. A fundamentally
restructured political order would make �the mode of
getting to power� and �the mode of survival in power�
to depend on the indispensability of the small groups.
These two objectives of the �Modern Fulani� as
applicable to the Edo are what you want me to discuss
in this lecture.
Can the Edo play the �Modern Fulani� today?
The Edo can. The question is how?
If not, the question is why not?
We can, if we have a sense of self-worth and
if we have a VISION of the kind of Nigeria we want to
have and the kind of Nigeria in which we want to live.
The �Future of Edos in Nigerian Body Politic� would
depend on how we play the role of the �Modern Fulani�.
Now coming back to the topic, �The Future of
Edos in Nigerian Body Politic�, it would appear that
there are few issues that I would like to raise that
you may want to discuss as part of the after-lecture
action on my part. I will join you after the lecture
to contribute to the resolution of these issues.
IDENTITY QUESTION: WHAT WE ARE BINI/BENIN CITY/EDO?
The invitation to me came from the Bini
Community and I am supposed to appear and I am
appearing at the Edo Convention. I am a Bini from
Oredo/Benin City and being asked to address an Edo
Convention on the political future of Edos. Someone
who saw the announcement in the African Market in New
Jersey called me to ask if there is a confusion or
conflict with these terms, Bini/Benin/Benin City and
Edo? Can the knowledge of one spill over to the
In my view �The Future of Edos in the Nigerian
Body Politic� is bleak, if at your level, there is
still this conceptual problem with these terms and
their relationships. From your privileged position,
you are the light of the Edos and you should be in the
forefront in resolving these apparent conceptual
difficulties. Let me raise eight problem areas.
One, I observe in the announcement in the
newspaper that there is a distinction between Bini and
Edo. This is an unresolved issue in Benin and Edo
State. Who is a Bini person? Who is an Edo person?
Are they interchangeable in Benin City? Are they
in conflict in areas outside Benin City?
Two, even in Benin City there is another
confusion with the terms, Benin and Benin City. The
terms Benin and Benin City are never used in everyday
discussion in our various homes. In the various
homes, the question asked is �Ovbi� Edo No� meaning,
�he is a native of Edo�. Why don�t we say �Ovbie
Bini no�, meaning, �he is a native of Bini�. This
confusion does not end here.
Three, we were told that Benin City Council was
changed to Oredo Council. Is Benin City the same
thing as Oredo? The term �Ore� is used to designate
an �area�, such as �Ore Ogbeni�; meaning the �area for
elephant killers� or �Ore�Oghene� to designate �Oghene
Those of us in Benin City do not have
difficulty understanding the meaning of �Oredo�. It
means the �center� of Edo; it could also mean the
�source� of Edo civilization. It could also mean the
headquarters of �Edo� people. If this is
acknowledged as such among those in Edo south, what
about the Edo north and Edo center? This is still
begging the question. Who are the Edos? Do the
Edos have a center?
How can the Edos have a �Future in the Body
Politic of Nigeria�, if what is Edo is not resolved?
Should this continue to be an unresolved issue?
How do we proceed to resolving it?
Four in the everyday usage in our various
homes, when those in Isi or Urhonigbe or Iguobazuwa
say, �I rie�Edo�, it means, �I am going to Edo�. Edo
here means a place that we call Benin City today. Is
Edo State a �City State� built around Edo, in this
sense Oredo or Benin City?
Five, take another case that those of us learnt
to use since 1979. When the newly crowned Oba was
asked how he would want to be addressed by the media,
he simply said, �Omo N� Oba N�Edo UkuAkpolokpolor,
Erediauwa. To add Oba of Benin to this expression
would be superfluous, in my view, because Omo N�Oba
N�Edo means the Oba of Edo. But people make this
error of adding Oba of Benin to the title. Edo in
this case means, Oba of Edo people or Oba of Edo Land.
Here we are referring to people, called �Edo�. We
could also be referring to the territory, called
�Edo�. This is not all.
Six, we also have such distinction between Edo
inhabited by the Oba and Edo not inhabited by the Oba
in such an expression as �Edo N�Oba ye� meaning �Edo
where the Oba resides�. This means that there is
�Edo N�Oba gh� iye�, i.e. �Edo where the Oba does not
reside�. If someone in Urhonigbe with the greatest
respect to my good friend, Mr. Frank Ekhator or in Isi
with the greatest respect to my cousin, Senator RS
Owie is traveling to what is usually referred to as
Benin City, how would he respond to such question,
�Vbua gh� rie?� (where are you going)? He would
simply tell his family �I rie Edo" and if he wants to
be more specific, he would say �Irie Edo N�Oba ye�
meaning that �I am going to the Edo inhabited by the
Oba i.e. where the Palace is. That is what we call
�Oredo�. This also means that there are other
parts of Edo where the Oba does not live such as
Urhonigbe or Isi. Is the relationship between the
Oba and Edo No Oba ye and between Edo N� Oba gh� iye�?
What is the meaning of the expression, �Urhonigbe
re� Edo�, meaning Urhonigbe is not Edo? Are there
parts of Edo State where the Oba should not even been
Seven, if the issue of the relationship between
the �Edo N�Oba ye� and the �Edo N� Oba gh� iye� in Edo
South is unresolved, it is a serious issue in Edo
North and in Edo Central. What does someone in
Auchi say when asked where he is going, if where he is
going is Benin City? What about Igueben or Otuo or
Sabongida-Ora? I know the Urhobo would say �Mi kpa
Aka�. Edo is Aka in Urhobo.
Why was the only Government Secondary School in
Benin called since the colonial period �Edo� College
and not Benin College or Benin City? Why did the
Igbo founder of a High School in the former Midwestern
Region name it �Edo� Boys� High School and not Benin
Boys� High School? This confusion does not end here.
Eight, what do we mean by the term, �Edo-Speaking
people�? Does this apply to language alone? Does
it apply to many people in the present Edo and Delta
States. Does it extend beyond these? Does it have
implication for common root, a common source of
ancestry and by implication, the position of the Omo
N�Edo in these areas?
RESOLVING IDENTITY QUESTION: REVISIT THE PAST
When I was preparing for this assignment, I had
to consult many records of the past. I had access to
the way Oba of Akenzua tried to resolve what one could
call the Edo identity crisis. Oba Akenzua was an
exponent of the theory of ethnic federalism. His
analysis rivaled those of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief
Obafemi Awolowo and surpassed any of the traditional
rulers of his time.
Unfortunately, we only refer to the works and
advocacy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi
Azikiwe as the only exponents of ethnic federalism in
Nigeria during the colonial period. Was it because
Oba Akenzua did not write a book? He was one of the
most educated if not the most educated of all
traditional rulers in Western Region who doubled as a
nationalist and the conceptualizer of EDO NATION. We
only refer to the works of Chief Awolowo and Dr.
Azikiwe with respect to the case they made for the
Yoruba and Igbo respectively. I shall take the three
views, beginning with Chief Awolowo and Dr. Azikiwe
and ending with Oba Akenzua.
To Chief Awolowo, the three regions of North,
east and west were mere administrative convenience
that should be restructured to provide for boundary
adjustment. Chief Awolowo advocated that
�each group, however small should receive
the same treatment as any other group,however large�.
According to Chief Awolowo,
�Opportunity must be afforded to each
group to evolve its own peculiar political
institutions�. (Path to Nigerian Freedom, (London
Faber, 1947). p. 54.
Dr. Azikiwe on the other hand, through the
Freedom Charter in 1948 adopted by the NCNC at its
Kaduna Convention approved a plank for �the
Commonwealth of Nigeria and the Cameroon that shall
be organized into states on a National
and Linguistic basis�. Quoted in James S Coleman
Nigeria: Background to Nationalism (Los Angeles, UC
Press 1968) p. 390.
The known record in print of Oba Akenzua�s
Vision of Edo as the nucleus of a Fourth Region can be
traced to 1948. This was when he inaugurated the
Reformed Benin Community (RBC), an organization
founded by his schoolmate from King�s College and a
pensioner, Chief H. Omo-Osagie who came to Benin in
1945 after retiring from the public service.
One of the aims of the RBC according to Chief
H. Omo-Osagie was to encourage the development and
unification of the various groups our ancestors
divided the Benin Kingdom for administrative
Oba Akenzua who in his inaugural address to the
RBC on October 28, 1948 urged its leaders to resolve
the Edo identity. According to Oba Akenzua,
The wrong impression that there are
several Edo nations and tribes must be removed.
What is our response to this today?
On what the Edo people should be pursuing in
Nigeria, Oba Akenzua had this to say:
In the scheme of things, all Benins
should strive for a place, state or principality of
Benin in the new Nigeria.
Omo N�Oba wanted Nigeria to be organized in a
such a way that each nationality would form the basis
of the federation. According to Oba Akenzua,
The Hausa, the Yorubas, the Ibos, and
other states are on the move�We must not be deprived
of our identity, custom, tradition, language and
culture, nor must we allow ourselves to be lulled into
a false sense of security.
Oba Akenzua then demanded for the creation of
the Fourth Region to be known and called Central or
Southwestern Region. In Oba Akenzua�s view,
An independent United States of Nigeria
brought about by Federation, will be glorious,
prosperous. peaceful, strong and original.
Oba Akenzua then urged the RBC to take the
initiative to form a larger cultural society or
federal union of which Edo, Urhobo, Itsekiri, Ishan,
Ora, Ivbiosakon, and Sobe peoples would be principal
There were two issues that would need to be
further explained. From my notes from my interview
with Chief H. Omo-Osagie in 1977, I learnt of two
things that Oba Akenzua had in mind.
One was that Oba Akenzua agreed with the leaders
of the Western Igbo that the people of the old Asaba
Division should join their kith and kin across the
Niger. This would accord with his notion of ethnic
The other was that Oba Akenzua wanted the Benin
Delta Provinces to have its own political party. He
did not like the premature affiliation of the
political movement he initiated in 1953 as the Benin
Delta Peoples Party with a political party outside the
area. He saw it as a reversal of what the leaders
of the Benin and Delta Provinces were fighting for.
Consequently he saw the forming of the Midwest State
Movement as an affiliate of the NCNC as a way of
sub-ordinating the Edo nation fighting to extricate
itself from one African State to another African
I will leave the further elucidation of these
two issues to another occasion. (For Oba Akenzua�s
message see Michael Vickers, Ethnicity and
Sub-Nationalism in Nigeria (Oxford 2000) pp. 7-8.
I also sought guidance in the comments by
the Oba Akenzua in the various places Oba Akenzua
visited in the present Edo and Delta States in 1953 to
campaign for the creation of Midwestern Region. In
all the comments made by the Oba of Benin, one is left
with only one impression. The kind of feeling of
separateness between Edo South (Benin), Edo Central
(Ishan) and Edo North (Afemai) manufactured by some
Edo politicians for personal gains today did not exist
during the period of Oba Akenzua.
The politics of State Creation, which the
political/military leaders in the present Delta and to
some extent in the present Edo North saw as an
opportunity to express distance with the people called
the Binis was anti-thetical to the Vision of Oba
Akenzua. There is no doubt that state creation was
not handled well in 1976 and 1991.
Oba Akenzua�s use of the term �One Nation�
with a common destiny to describe the people of the
former Benin and Delta Provinces in 1953/54 and in
1963 was never disputed by the political and
traditional leaders of Benin and Delta Provinces with
the exception of the leaders of the present Anioma.
Oba Akenzua, in his address to the Conference
of Political and Traditional leaders of Benin and
Delta Provinces on September 18, 1953 was very
definite as to what we were before the White man came.
According to the Omo N� Oba,
Benin and Delta was a �Sovereign
Nation� before the occupation
of the country by the British.
We should note that a singular verb, �was� was used
for the two provinces, Benin and Delta in terms of one
people divided into two provinces that is manifesting
itself into two provinces by the colonial power.
This was not an accident.
Oba Akenzua went on That is why Britain cannot
annex �it� (Benin Delta Nation) to the Yoruba State.
In various parts of Oba Akenzua�s speech,
the terms �National Struggle� to enhance our �National
Status� littered his description of what he was
calling on the leaders to embark on along with other
�Nations� before the British granted Nigeria
independence. Oba Akenzua kept using the singular,
�it� to describe the Benin and Delta Provinces such as
in this expression
All the Nations of this country are
fighting hard to assert their National Status; it will
be unwise for Benin and Delta to do nothing about
asserting �its� own.
The above excepts are also found in Michael Vickers
Oba Akenzua used the singular term �it� and
�its� to describe the Benin and Delta and at nowhere
in his speech did he say �their� own. This still
remains what I would consider as the Oba Akenzua�s
Vision of �unity and solidarity� of Edo. This is
what we should aspire to emulate today, as it is still
valid till today for the Edos in quest of a �Future in
the Body Politic of Nigeria�.
The Secretary General of the Benin-Delta Peoples
Party (BDPP) formed by Oba Akenzua in 1953 was Chief
GO Odiase of Irrua.
At what stage was the term Edo used to describe
the people of Edo State? I recall that the Edo State
Movement under the spiritual leadership of Oba
Erediauwa and the political leadership of Chief
Anthony Enahoro in the Second Republic had supporters
from the present Edo South, Edo Central, and Edo
North. When did the term become a disputed term?
At what stage did the term become so intolerable as to
warrant the agitation for the creation of Afesan State
(Afemai and Ishan) from present Edo State?
I was dismayed when some politicians in Auchi
were raising question about the oneness of the Edo and
actually want to call themselves �northerners� maybe
because it is politically expedient and profitable to
do so. Records also show too that it was at Auchi
that Oba was not received in 1953. He had to skip
that town and was received at Jattu, Uzairue,
Sabon-gida Ora, Otuo and in various part of Ishan
land. Omo N�Oba Akenzua and his delegation that
included Chief H. Omo Osagie spent nights in some of
these places. Was it that Benin City was too far to
from where he spent the night? Or was it that Oba
Akenzua just wanted to establish that he was at home
in any part of Edo land? Could this happen today?
If not why not?
Quite unlike me, I am sorry to be personal.
When I read about Prince Tony Momoh�s �anti-Edo
oneness� tirade, I asked myself a simple question.
Did Prince Tony Momoh think that he was the most
competent person when I recommended him to be the
Minister of Information?
When I approached my cousin, Mr. Sam Eguavoen,
I told him I was interested in an Edo person who was
competent in print journalism because of the problem
the President, my friend was facing. Sam turned down
the offer and recommended his friend, Prince Tony
Momoh. Later Sam brought Tony to meet with me,
From that meeting, I was convinced that Prince Momoh
met both criteria. The rest is history. Simple!
Tony performed marvelously in the role of
Minister of Information and he did Edo proud. What
message is he sending to me today with his tirade? I
did not make a mistake for believing that Edokpamakhin
i.e. that all Edos are one? I was acting in
furtherance of Oba Akenzua�s Vision enunciated in 1948
that �the wrong impression that there are several Edo
nations or tribes must be removed�. That should
still remain the Vision of Edo State today.
The foregoing are the issues that would be
relevant and resolved, if we are talking of a common
future and a common line of action for the Edos in the
�Body Politic of Nigeria�. We should as Oba Akenzua
called on the leaders of the Benin and Delta not only
to seek �freedom from the White man�, but also seek
freedom from �foreign African Nation�, which at that
time was the Yoruba Nation. This means that the Edo
nation should not play a second-class status to any
How Oba Akenzua�s Vision who was instrumental to
my election in 1977 became my Vision for the old
Bendel State during my stewardship as a Member of the
Constituent Assembly was discussed in my book. I made
references to this fact on June 20, 2002 in the
message I sent to Nigeria on the day of the public
presentation of the book.
RESOLVING IDENTITY QUESTION: DO NOT SPLIT EDO
How could the Edos have a �Future in the
Nigerian Body Politic�, if the earliest opportunities
we have and when some of us are placed in a position
to be helpful to our common root, we make for the
dismemberment of the present Edo State? Do we know
that it was part of the history of the creation of Edo
State that the two opportunities that came the way of
Edo officers in the �military in politics� in the
past, the dismemberment of Edo was actively canvassed?
The unity and solidarity of the present Edo State
and the Edos did not form part of the mission of the
political and military leaders of the Edo North and
Edo Central in the past. I repeat in the past.
In fact, Chief Anthony Enahoro who was in the
forefront in the campaign for the creation of Edo
State during the Second Republic was shocked that some
illustrious sons of his home were actively canvassing
for the destruction of the unity and solidarity of
Edo. At one of the meetings of the Edokpamakhim in
2000, he told us how he found this most disappointing.
This is an opportunity for me to pay tribute to
Professor Oje Aisiku an Ora Chief who brought us
together as Edo people from Edo South, Edo North and
Edo Central under the auspices of Edokpamakhin in
It is a matter of record that when many people
in Edo North and Edo Central were losing their cool
over the utterances of the Governor of Edo State over
the composition of the Edo Traditional Council, it was
Chief Oje Aisiku who came out with a new thinking.
He put forward a proposal of how to accommodate all
the traditional interests and distinguished citizens
in the one family called Edo State. That is the way
to evolve a Vision on a delicate issue. That is the
kind of activity that the leadership of the Edo
National Association should be pursuing. It is not
late for the Association to address delicate issues
and not shy away. As Chief Aisiku ably
demonstrated, what we had in the past was the House of
Chiefs and not House of Obas. Chief Aisiku brought
out the rational in the colonial invention of the
nomenclature, House of Chiefs and not House of Obas in
the past in the north, west and later in the east and
Midwest. We will recall that the House of Chiefs
included Oba, Emirs and Obis, Chiefs and District
Heads as the case maybe and non-Obas or Chiefs but who
were eminent sons and daughters. Some of you qualify
to be members of the Edo Council of Chiefs as eminent
sons and daughters of Edo land.
For those who are calling for a �Future� for
the Edos, internal strife based on ignorance should be
discouraged. We should never give the impression to
non-Edos in the country that there is a culture of
fear between those who live in �Edo N�Oba ye� and
those who live outside the �Edo N�Oba ye� in Edo South
and between the Edo South and the rest of the State.\
RESOLVING IDENTITY QUESTION: EDO AND NIGERIA
We should deal with the concept of �Nigeria� and
how the Edo became part of it. We cannot talk about
a �Future for the Edos in the Nigerian Body Politic�,
if we do not come to term with the concept of Nigeria.
You have to be a good Edo man and woman before you
can be a good Nigerian. It is not the other way
Those who read my essay titled �God of Justice
Not Associated with An Unjust Political Order�
serialized by Vanguard of July 1, 2 and 3, 2002 would
recall that I stated the origin of the term, Nigeria.
A revised edition is still on the three-major WWW
(gamji.com, nigerdeltacongress.com and
nigeriaworld.com). It was my reaction to the many
ways President Obasanjo has been trying to distort the
history of Nigeria as we know it.
I went to the archive to demonstrate how the
term came about. It was Ms. Flora Shaw who later
became the wife of Lord Lugard who first used the
term, Nigeria in an article in the Financial Times of
London of January 8, 1897. She coined the term
�Nigeria� when she was trying to make a case for a
shorter term for the �Royal Niger Company
Territories�, which was too long. Of course, we knew
the extent of the Territories under the Royal Niger
Company. It did not extend beyond what was later
called Northern Nigeria. The events leading to the
amalgamation of the southern Protectorates and the
Colony and later the amalgamation of the �Nigeria�
(the North) and the Southern Protectorates and the
Colony in 1914 achieved one objective. It only
incorporated the various States in the south including
Edo into the Nigeria that was fashioned as far back as
1897. This is the history of the origin of Nigeria.
Only those of us who went to school had any
conception of the term Nigeria. It never came into
the lexicon of politics of the present day Nigeria
until after 1914. In the Edo language, the word,
�Nigeria� never still featured in the everyday
conversation until after independence.
I recall the campaign for the 1959 Federal
Elections stoutly fought by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and
Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the old Benin and Delta
Provinces. We did not see the northern leaders in
the south; they concentrated their effort in the
To the voters of Benin and Delta Provinces, it
would seem or appear that the contest was between Dr.
Azikiwe and Chief Awolowo. The people of Benin and
Delta Provinces must have been shocked when the radio
flashed the news that a Mallam Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
had been invited to form the Government as the Prime
I overheard the discussion among some women who
called on my mother. They were wondering aloud as to
what must have happened to the man they voted for, Dr.
Azikiwe and his opponent, Chief Awolowo who took to
the sky during the campaign? One would recall how
Chief Awolowo�s campaign machine took to the air
during this period.
What was intriguing was the question my mother
asked me, Is this Abubakar in the same country with
Dr. Azikiwe, called Nigeria? She wanted to know the
meaning of the term, Nigeria? We could add such
question, what is the relationship between Edo and
Nigeria and their lives and in the context of Nigeria?
These questions are critical to the examination of
the topic of this lecture, �The Future of Edos in the
Nigerian Body Politics�.
How the Edo Nation became part of Nigeria is
one issue and how the Edo nation has been
participating in the Nigerian State and in the
political process since independence is another.
Nigeria will be good, if Edo and other units are good.
This happens to be the argument of those who do not
want the Edo State broken up. The assignment you
land me with today is to discuss the �Future of the
Edos in Nigerian Body Politic�.
THE FUTURE OF EDO IN NIGERIA: REVISIT PAST EXPERIENCE
When I was told of the assignment, my initial
impression was that there is an assumption that the
organizers of this Convention are not satisfied with
the place of Edo in the past. There is also an
implicit assumption that they are not happy with the
position of the Edos in the present day politics.
Because of these two assumptions, the organizers
would want me to hazard some suggestions as to how to
change the fortunes of �Edos in the Nigerian Body
Politic� and improve the chances of Edos in the Future
Body Politic of Nigeria�. I shall try.
I shall not blow my trumpet. But the plight of
the minorities in Nigeria had been my preoccupation
since I got involved in student partisan politics
through the Northern Peoples Congress Club at the
University of Ibadan with late Ken Saro Wiwa in 1963
before the Midwestern Region was created.
It influenced my academic preoccupations with
�Political Learning� and the �Politics of Plural
Societies� since I got involved in the study of
Political Science as a discipline in the Graduate
School in 1965. And my academic preoccupations had
been on how to bring my academic preoccupation to bear
on my various political involvement since 1977.
I know that the problems faced by Nigeria
since independence are not unique. They are typical
problems faced in all plural societies. They are
two; how the various groups can live together and how
to form a government that appreciates the fact of the
many groups in Nigeria. My concern in academic and
public life has been on how to make the country,
Nigeria a better society and polity.
This was my preoccupation when I went to the
Constituent Assembly. This was why I joined others
to push for not just for the Presidential System but
also for the entrenchment of the �Geographical Spread�
in the mode of election of the President that must
take the states that are homes to minorities in
Nigeria into account.
The problem arising from the plural character
of Nigeria was my preoccupation when I went to the
National Institute in 1979. My thesis was on �How to
Reduce the �Political Salience of Ethnicity� in
This was my preoccupation in my association
with the �military in politics� as a policy maker in
1985 to 1993.
FOR FUTURE OF EDO REJECT TRIPOD OR ATOMIZED STATES.
I have been working against the two popular
notions of Nigerian society. One is the theory of
the �hegemon� that limits the number of ethnic
hegemons to three ethnic nationalities in Nigeria
around which the three administrative Regions would be
built. The three Political Regions were the North,
the West and the East, with three hegemonic ethnic
nationalities, the Hausa for the North, the Yoruba for
the West and Ndi Igbo for the East. This was the
basis for the three regions under the Richards
As applicable to us Edos, of course the
non-Yoruba Provinces of the Benin and Delta Provinces
were for administrative purposes placed in the
Southwestern Region called the Western Region. The
harm the inclusion of Benin and Delta Provinces in the
Western Region did to our people and how this was a
reversal of the promises made to our traditional
rulers by the British were issues that had to feature
during the first time the Yoruba met and humiliated
the non-Yoruba in the Western Regional House of
Assembly on January 7, 1952.
These three majority ethnic nationalities
were united on one theme. They could not stand the
minorities in their regions and opposed the creation
of new homes for them in their regions. This is why
the three majority ethnic nationalities have not
learnt to reconcile themselves with the fact that new
States had at various times since 1963 been carved out
of the old regions.
Sometimes the leaders of the majority ethnic
nationalities want to give the impression that the
broken mirror could still be put together. This is
very evident in the north and in the east where
strenuous effort is still being made to promote a
pan-north or a pan-Eastern bloc. It should be noted
that the Western leaders of old are not pretending
that the old Western Region could be recreated.
The second is the theory of atomized states,
which says that Nigerian has over 250 ethnic
nationalities with atomized ethnic nationalities in
the Niger-Delta. In order to get over this category
of �atomized� states, some ethnic nationalities have
been trying to increase the number of hegemone from
three to four or five as the case may be. The Ijaw
advocate a zone called the �Niger-Delta� instead of
the �South-South� where they would be the undisputed
hegemone and the Tiv advocate the zone for the North
Central where they would be the undisputed hegemone.
This is my understanding of why the Ijaw leaders and
recently the Tiv leaders have been trying to call
themselves the Fourth or the Fifth largest ethnic
groups in Nigeria.
Those who are agitating for a place in the
queue of large ethnic nationalities are doing so
because they want to escape the category of atomized
states or of the category of minorities in Nigeria.
Consequently, they want to do away with the three
majorities and replace the number with four or five or
six as the case maybe. Where would the Edo people
put themselves in the rat race of wanting to escape
the category of minorities? If the Edo cannot
situate themselves in the queue how can we ever
qualify in the politics of zoning and rotation and all
FOR FUTURE OF EDO: STOP INTRA-EDO INTRIGUE
For Edo to have a future, intra-Edo intrigues
must stop. Where does the Edo fit in? With all the
intra-Edo plan of creating more States from the
present State, how can the Edos play a part in the
Nigerian politics? I recall one person who I talked
to during the state creation frenzy in 1991 that what
would be left after the Afesan should have been
created would be a residue. Could a residue be a
State? What would Afesan be without the Edo?
When would the craze for states out of the present Edo
state end? The Esan component of Afesan would want
to be a State? Maybe the Ora component of Afemai
component would want to be a State. When will this
Those who are concerned about the �Future� of
Edos must first of all come to terms with the unity
and solidarity of the Edos. They should appreciate
that more bifurcation of Edo would further diminish
the power of the Edos and not enhance it. The
�Future of the Edos� under such a situation would
result in the political impotence of the Edo in
�Nigerian Body Politic�.
FOR FUTURE OF EDO: INSERT/ASSERT EDO IN THE US AND IN
I looked at the handbook prepared for and by the
US State Department on the major ethnic nationalities
in Africa. Fifteen were identified and only three
linguistic groups are recognized in Nigeria. They
are the Hausa, the Yoruba and the Ndi Igbo.
See David F. Gordon, David C. Miller, Jr. and
Howard Wolpe eds. The United States and Africa (New
York, W.W. Norton and Company 1998) p. 24.
Going through the World Press Review Online for
reference materials on the world wide web, the
following information is provided under �Ethnic
Groups�. After stating that Nigeria has more than
250 ethnic groups, it went on to state that �the
following are the most populous and politically
influential: Hausa/Fulani 29%, Yoruba, 21%, Igbo, 18%,
Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5% and Tiv 2.5%.
Even the Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun
Obasanjo does not recognize the Edo as an autonomous
ethnic nationality. In fact, he only recognizes the
three majority ethnic nationalities. How many of you
will recall his independence Anniversary broadcast on
October 1, 2001? Let me quote him:
I particularly wish to appeal to our
leaders in Ohaneze, Afenifere,
and Arewa Forum to genuinely dialogue
with each other, rather
than talk at one another from entrenched
positions and postures.
When the Nigerian President only called
on the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Afenifere and
Ohaneze as the three hegemonic Groups, as they are in
Nigeria that should meet and find solution to the
lingering political crisis in Nigeria, some of us are
I know that the Edos do not belong to any of
these groups. I know that none of these three groups
speak for the Edos. It is a pity that those from Edo
land such as Chief Anthony Enahoro and Chief Tony
Anenih who are working for and with the President are
not on record as correcting this notion of Nigeria by
I was a Guest speaker in a function organized by
a group of Nigerian-Americans and I was asked the
question: Which of these three �major� groups do I
belong? Of course, I had to dismiss the question
very tactfully that the Nigerian President was
referring to the loud groups that were causing all the
problems since 1999 in Nigeria. Empty vessels make
the most noise! I told my audience that he was not
referring to those who were peaceful in Nigeria.
Talking seriously, what do the Edo people tell
their host in the US as their nationalities in
At the individual level one could ask, �Who
And at the group level, we could ask, �Who are
These are at the root of the critical issue of
personal identity and national identity. What do you
tell your children born in the US? Do you tell them
that daddy or mummy is from one of the three groups in
Nigeria? Your children read what the President of
Nigeria said. Your children are exposed to the US
books and World Wide Web We cannot talk of a �Future
for the Edos in Nigerian Body Politic� unless we know
who we are and be able to respond to question in the
US that we exist.
For those who would want to explore the
relationship between personal identity, group identity
and national identity I�d call your attention to the
origin of the use of the tool �Who am I� developed by
M.H. Kuhn and TS McFarland, �An Empirical
Investigation of Self-Attitude� in American
Sociological Review vol. 26 (1954) pp 68-76. I
applied this in my research in a typical plural
society in 1968. My findings can be found in Omo
Omoruyi, �The identity Question in Plural Societies:
Findings From Guyana� in Sociologus: A Journal of
Empirical Ethno-Sociology and Ethno-Psychology Vol.
26, No. 2 (1976) pp. 150-161}.
FOR FUTURE OF EDO: DEFEND SIZE OF CURRENT EDO STATE
What I know about the size of States in the
international community is that there is no optimum
size of population for any nation or an optimum size
of a federal unit in a federation. But this is not a
case for or a defense of those who want to break up
the present Edo State. The present size of Edo is
just right in Nigeria. It meets three criteria of
unity: common history, language and leadership. The
current Edo State could be used to push for a relevant
political position in Nigeria.
On the harm that smallness could do to us in
the Edo land, if we continue to break the present
unit, I found the recent address of Senator David
Dafinone at the �South-South� Democracy Alliance
Conference at Port Harcourt very intriguing.
According to Senator Dafinone, the �South-South� is
made up of �people with diverse cultures, languages,
and traditions�. He went on, these groups are �in no
way subordinate to one another�. The current Edo
State is relatively homogenous. Then the question,
what can these groups in the �South-South� do in the
�Body Politic of Nigeria?
Two issues are involved in this question.
Whether these atomized groups can act together and
Whether these groups could maximize their power in
Nigerian politics and how?
These two issues formed the basis of Senator
Dafinone speech at the rally. See This Day July 10,
2002. They are relevant to the �Future of Edos in
Nigerian Body Politic�. I am sure that this is what
you are asking me to bare mind on in this lecture. I
FOR THE ENHANCED ROLE OF EDO: DAFINONE AS A GUIDE
In Political Science, the concept of �Groups�
in the political life and in the process has a
veritable lineage. But this is not what I am asked
to talk about. I am being asked to deal with how the
Edos as an interest group can enhance its political
stature in Nigerian politics under the rubric, the
�Future of the Edos in the Nigerian Body Politic�.
I am attracted to the way Senator David
Dafinone dealt with the matter recently. Senator
Dafinone argued that there are two ways in which a
group in a plural society such as Nigeria could be
relevant. Senator David Dafinone identified the two
ways in the language that normal politicians could and
One, Senator Dafinone is right when he
advised the small group like the Edo to �negotiate the
use of power by users of power�. How did they do
this in the past? How are they doing this today?
How do they intend to do this in the future? What is
our success rate?
Two, Senator Dafinone is right when he
advised that a small group like the Edo should
�co-operate with other geo-political zones to capture
power through the political process�. How did they
do this in the past? How have they been doing this
today? How do they intend to do this in future?
Senator Dafinone did not say �zoning� or
�rotation� or �power shift�, the three buzzwords that
are being thrown around in the political discourse in
Nigeria. Let me provide two counsels here.
The advocacy of zoning or rotation or power shift
would not be favorable to the Edos because the Edo
would not be able to find a place in the ethnic queue
whether with the Tripod or within the atomized states.
The interplay of democratic forces would be adequate
for us, if we are able to operate as the �Modern
Those who are advocating zoning or rotation or
power shift without competition ought to appreciate
that such a practice would breed inertia. The
practice would not enhance democratic life.
FOR ENHANCED POLITICAL ROLE FOR A SMALL GROUP LIKE
EDO, GO FOR INTERPLAY OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESS
My view is that those who are canvassing for
rotation without competition are admitting defeat that
they would not be able to participate in the
democratic process. This is why I have always worked
against the idea of prescribing zoning in the
This is the point of departure in my discussion
of the �Future of the Edos in the Nigerian Body
Politic�. If zoning or rotation or power shift
would not be favorable to us, what do we then do? Do
we have options? Yes, we do; first we would have to
acknowledge the status of Edo as an integral part of
the minorities of Nigeria.
I have always argued and I will continue to
argue that Nigeria as a plural society should be
amenable to the rules that govern the �Politics of
Plural Societies�. This has been my preoccupation
with the late Ken SaroWiwa as soon as we met at the
University of Ibadan in October 1962.
As I appear before you (the Edo National
Association) at the 2002 National Convention, I want
to be consistent. Hence I am urging you to assist
the Edo political class to resolve the �Future of Edos
in Nigerian Body Politic� within the �Minority
Question in Nigerian Politics�. This means that the
�Minority Question in Nigerian Politics� is very
different from the Yoruba or Igbo or Hausa Question in
Nigerian Politics. My past is there for all of you
Let me make my views clear about the purported
discussion of alliance between the southeast and the
south-south for 2003. We in the Edo State should
first resolve our problems as part of the resolution
of the �Minority Question in Nigerian Politics�. The
�Minority Question in Nigerian Politics� is more than
the question of who would be President in 2003 that is
the sole preoccupation of the southeast as a member of
the tripod. The Ndi Igbo Presidency Project is a
lofty goal; it is part of the resolution of the
�Politics of Igbo Reentry into the Political
Mainstream in Nigeria�. My view is that the Edo
should start from the position that we are already in
the political mainstream and participate.
What ought to and should be obvious to the
political leaders of the south-south is that �The Igbo
Question in Nigerian Politics� is part of the
�Politics of the Tripod�. Noble as it is for the Ndi
Igbo and for peace among the members of the tripod, it
should not be pursued at the expense of the
non-members of the tripod. This view is not new
with me. Therefore linking the Edo with the minority
caucus is not a new issue for me as far as I am
concerned. My political career is based on it.
I crave your indulgence to recall the position
that I held and championed with success as far back as
1977 based on my study of Nigerian plural society.
This was when I first stepped on the national scene at
the Constituent Assembly. This is an opportunity for
me to pay tribute to the three traditional leaders of
Benin, (Oba Akenzua, the two Iyase in quick
succession, Chiefs H. Omo-Osagie and SO Ighodaro of
blessed memory) and the members of the Edegbe Union of
Benin who were able to convince the Councilors of
Oredo to send me to Lagos.
POLITICAL VISION OF EDO;
Based on what I know as a student of the
�Politics of Plural Societies�, I came to certain
conclusions as to what should constitute the Political
Vision of Edo in the Nigerian Body Politic that I
shall now proceed to itemize as follows:
The conception of Nigeria as either dominated by three
majority ethnic nationalities or made up of many
groups is inimical to the political empowerment of the
Edos and other minorities in Nigeria. Edo political
class should lead in fighting these two conceptions of
The unity and solidarity of Edo should be the first
issue to be tackled. We should take a cue from �Oba
Akenzua�s Vision for Edo� articulated above.
The Edo should adhere to the cherished principle of
States as the unit of Representation in a federal
Edo should resolve what I might call the �Edo
Irreducible Minimum� before getting involved in
alliance formation even within the old Midwest.
A united Edo would serve as the rallying point for the
old Midwestern Region (minus Anioma) that was changed
to Bendel State in 1976.
The old Midwest (minus Anioma) or the old Bendel State
(minus Anioma) to which Edo is an integral part should
consider itself an integral part of the �South-South�
and part of the Nigerian Minority Caucus to constitute
the �Fourth Dimension�. Put briefly, there is a need
for an organization that would link the southern and
northern minorities to constitute the �Fourth
Dimension� in Nigerian Politics.
The �Fourth Dimension� should explore some
relationship with other groups based on the Vision of
the Fourth Dimension�. I am referring to the members
of the three majority ethnic nationalities (Southeast,
Southwest and the North) and not with the associations
that pretend to speak for them.
From the five above, a new political party would
emerge that should be able to compete for power in
The various fundamental political positions such as
state creation, political party formation, mode of
electing President and revenue allocation and public
policies that have implications for the power
distribution in the country should be monitored with
an eye on the effect on the �Fourth Dimension�. The
Edo in particular and the Fourth Dimension in general
should be concerned about how they are resolved at
CAUTION: May I counsel some caution.
There is no rationale for premature commitment to such
organizations, as the Arewa Consultative Forum,
Ohaneze and the Afenifere before you are sure of what
you want from such an association. These
organizations are engaged in the �Politics of the
Tripod�. The three of them want the same thing,
produce the President.
Beside the Afenifere, the other two organizations
(Arewa Consultative Forum and the Ohaneze N�Igbo) are
still to establish that they have control over the
North and the Southeast respectively that they pretend
to represent. From what I know about the north and the
southeast, there are other groups and individuals
outside these organizations that are not planning to
take over the minorities in the country and would be
willing to work with them. This is what the Edo
National Association�s Think Tank should do for the
There are individuals and groups in the southeast,
southwest and in the far north that would want to work
with the Fourth Dimension on the basis of justice and
equity. The Edo National Association through its
Think Tank on Vision should work with likeminded
organizations in the Fourth Dimension assist the
political class of the Fourth Dimension to fish them
out. The Fourth Dimension political class should not
be a prisoner of some associations that pretend to
speak for the north, southeast and southwest. I
know these groups and if the need arises for me to
help, I will be willing to do so.
BEWARE OF SELF-SERVING POLITICAL LEADERS FROM THE
May I also use this medium to repeat my criticism of
the self-serving defenders of the old Midwestern
Region. Some of these politicians in Edo in
particular and in the old Midwestern Region and of the
south-south in general misled their people in the past
and today misleading their people through their
premature alliances and pronouncements. For example,
they are making cases for a �North/South-South� or a
�Southeast/South-South� alliance out of ignorance.
What do they know of these areas? They are not privy
to the political agenda of the North and of the
Southeast. Yet the debate between those who want to
work with the north such as EK Clark and those who
want to work with the southeast such as Dr. Sam
Ogbemudia is carried on without first articulating a
Vision for Edo in particular and for the old Midwest
May I counsel that the Future of the Edos in
Nigerian Body Politic should NOT be approached from
the point of view of individual personal political
agenda. This is what you in the Edo National
Association should discourage. This is where you as
the light of the Edo people should research.
The Think Tank on Vision should be able to
unearth the �rampart� being guarded and guided by the
Northern and Southeastern political leaders to be used
as guide to how to approach the north and the
southeast. This is one way to stop these
�self-serving political leaders� in Edo in search of
Let me repeat the warning, do not get involved
in alliance unless one is sure of what one wants from
The Edos or the new or old Midwest should not
make the mistake to think that these three regional or
zonal organizations do not have their agenda. They
have and are also scheming on how to take you over and
use you for their purpose. You should watch out for
the scheme or the fine prints of the big brother.
Our political leaders should not be deceived or
misled. The Igbo, the Hausa or the Yoruba would not
sit down and scout for a minority from the south south
to be the President of Nigeria.
The Edos should prepare for the unforeseen
and come up with a �Contingency Plan�. As I argued
above, suppose the need arises for an independent
State, what should the present Edo State do? Since
this is not part of the topic that assumes the
corporate existence and integrity of Nigeria as it is,
I only throw this in should in case. Think about
HOW TO IMPLEMENT THIS VISION: TAKE A CUE FROM 1977
All the foregoing and what could be done to
bring the foregoing about, I would have to take a leaf
from my past that is now part of Nigerian history.
It was the subject of a book recently released to the
reading public in Nigeria with the title, Beyond the
Tripod in Nigerian Politics. It is now for the
people of the minorities in the south and in the north
I was the coordinator of this group that was
new in Nigeria. This Fourth Dimension-driven
organization with its agenda was never provided for in
the Murtala/Obasanjo transition program. It should
be noted that that program was essentially focused on
the interplay of political forces involving only the
tripod. We, as the �Modern Fulani� changed the
Murtala/Obasanjo�s �Tripod-Oriented Political Agenda�.
I recall how we, as the �Modern Fulani�
substituted our own Agenda in the Constituent Assembly
in 1977. One would have thought that t he Edo
political class had opportunity to commence an Agenda
in 1998. Why did they fail? For the Future of Edos
in the Body Politic, then this is the challenge before
the Edo National Association as a serious group with
intellectual and financial power to commence planning
I recall that the National President Dr. Oboma
Asemota and Secretary Dr Kienuwa Obaseki of
Edokpamakhin had had occasion to ask me to submit a
paper addressed to the question in the past. They
raised this issue with me especially during the Abacha
days when the Yoruba organization worldwide was busy
perfecting their Agenda. Noble as the assignment
was, my attitude to the task then was who would listen
or who would be my clients? There are people who
would listen today, I hope.
NEED FOR AN EDO �THINK-TANK� ON VISION
Can Edo still play the role today of extending
the political arena beyond the tripod? The answer
would be yes. But this should flow from a thinking
group to be called the Edo Think Tank on Vision. The
Edo National Association worldwide should put this
together. You can take the initiative here.
I had occasion to interact with some Edo
people in Austria in August who think along this line.
I am also due to address the Edo Convention in the
UK later this year. The initiative for a worldwide
Convention of Edo people in Diaspora on Vision is
necessary. You can take the initiative.
Let me warn against certain issues.
The Think-Tank on Vision is different from the
manifesto committee of an aspirant or a political
The Think-Tank on Vision should not be taken over by
the self-serving group who would write themselves into
an Edo Vision before it commences. That would do
more harms to the Edo cause than what we have today.
The Think-Tank on Vision should prepare for a national
Conference because it would come. All signs are
pointing to a Sovereign National Conference that would
arise after the collapse of the existing political
order in lieu of a ,military take over that would be
resisted by many groups in Nigeria. It is a pity
that Edo politicians are not on record as demanding
for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference
for the purpose of redesigning Nigeria. Only Chief
Anthony Enahoro under the auspices of MNR and not as
an Edo leader has been talking about the matter.
What stops him from bringing our people together for
that purpose, one does not know. If the members of
the Edo National Association were to be called upon
today to originate position papers for the Edos for a
National Conference, are you ready? The Edo
politicians in particular and the politicians of the
�South-South in general are the least prepared of all
ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. Do they have their
positions on all issues? This should be your role.
You have all the leisure? You have all the
resources. Do not wait for the folk� back home who
are preoccupied with daily battle with how to survive.
VISION for Edos should be above partisan politics.
But politicians should be able to draw on it. I
dealt with this issue in the Agenda of Liberation for
the South-South. We know that the current political
class in Edo State like their colleagues in the
country commenced the transition program in 1998
without an Agenda or a Vision for the society. This
year, 2002, the Edo National Association should evolve
a VISION for the Edo from which the current political
class and aspiring political class could draw. The
difference between politicians is how they plan to
implement the VISION for the Edo. You are the better
body to demand for alternative program from them
within the Edo Vision.
EDO NATIONAL ASSOCIATION AND COMPETITIVE POLITICS
The Edo National Association should encourage
competition among our people for elective offices.
The Edo National Association should be a
non-partisan body that should be available to all
politicians in Edo land.
Consequently, it should set up a machinery, a
Political Action Committee to do the followings.
Provide a forum for Chief Lucky Igbinedion as the
current Governor to tell the Edo people what he has
accomplished on his fourth year in office. As he
proceeds to seeking a second term you should confront
him with the Vision mapped out by you.
Provide a forum for those in the State who are
aspiring to challenge the Governor and other elected
persons within the PDP and from other political
parties within the Vision mapped out by you.
Watch for the implementation of the Vision for Edos
Create a level playing field for assessing the office
holders and their challengers.
Encourage the Edo people to register during the voters
Perform voter�s education to enable our people weigh
the program of the different candidates within the EDO
VISION before voting.
Organize series of debates between current office
holders and their challengers at all levels. This is
to assist our people make an intelligent choice among
candidates and parties in 2003.
Set a benchmark for measuring success of office
holders based on the Vision for Edo State. This is
what the aspiring political class would use.
As part of your annual convention activities, organize
series of seminars on a minimum political agenda or an
irreducible minimum in all spheres of political life
in the State.
Publish papers, books on the above.
EDO CAN EVOLVE A VISION FOR NIGERIA
I was party to how the Fourth Dimension was
able to evolve a VISION not only for the Assembly but
also for the country in 1977/78. Can this be done
today? I say yes. Could this be the position of Edo
today and in the future? I�d say yes.
I was party to the experiment that was never
provided for in the military plan or anticipated by
the three majority ethnic nationalities/ players. To
these groups, the activities of the Fourth Dimension
were a destabilizer. Has that situation changed
today, the answer is No? They would do everything to
divide and rule the Fourth Dimension. Should
something not be done about it, the answer is yes.
This is where the �Modern Fulani� comes in.
Please do not get me wrong; those who assembled
under the auspices of the BDCC were people who had one
grievance or other against existing political
functionaries. They were made up of people who from
their past did not have the knack for organization
within the �South-South�. They were made up of
people who did not know how to move beyond the tripod
from their track record. An Agenda-setting body
should extend beyond those who would want to run on
the agenda. To this extent, those who assembled under
the BDCC could not said to be an Agenda-Setting Body.
Let me take two issues where these
self-serving political leaders of the old Midwest
failed in the past and are still failing today.
There is no evidence that they have any clue as to how
to deal with them in future. I am referring to the
�Politics of Oil� and the �Presidential Politics�.
POLITICS OF OIL
In 1977, even though important, OIL was not
used as a political resource then. The situation
has changed today. As a member of the Technical
Committee on Revenue Allocation set up by General
Obasanjo in 1977, I knew his views. He has not
changed. That was in 1977. How much of his views
did those in Edo and in the south-south know in 1998?
Did they ask him and what did he tell them? It
would appear that they did not know his views. It
would appear that they did not ask him.
Now and in future that he needs your votes,
President Obasanjo and other competitors should be
made to come forward with their plank. Suppose the
PDP Presidential candidate Obasanjo does not come
forward with what is in accord with your Vision, what
would you do? Would you canvass for another
candidate that meets your Vision?
The political class of the �South-South� is
still to succeed in defining oil as an agenda for
political action. Can you help our people?
Since 1999, OIL ought to and should have been
used as a political resource. This should have been
the basis for evaluating the Presidential candidates
of the two political parties with respect to their
conception of the issue of ownership of oil in 1999.
It was not done.
Could one imagine, if oil were to be found in
Abeokuta, Kano or Enugu! What would be the nature of
debate about oil? Why can�t the political leaders
of the oil producing states appreciate that the
politics of oil is dictated by the fact that the
�South-South� is politically impotent? This should
have been elementary. It has nothing to do with
What is completely absent in the political
discourse so far is the relationship between law and
the power distribution in society. We should know
what is law in any society. There is no law outside
what the dominant forces in the society say it is.
You saw the way the Supreme Court was made to handle
the issue of Oil and not of Sharia.
What do we have in Edo State like all the States
in the �South-South�? It is Oil and Gas, no matter
the quantity and where it comes from in the State.
Oil, as a political resource has been the least used
political resource in the country. That should have
been the equivalent of the Political Sharia and the
Political Army. In the second part of the three-part
essay on the �Politics of Oil� that I submitted for
the consideration of the political leaders of the
�South-South, I make a case for power equivalence
between �Oil�, �President� and �Military�. I pleaded
that the �South-South� should use Oil as the
bargaining issue with those who would want the other
two. The three are interdependent from the way the
country was run from 1966 to 1999. In a democracy,
this is what should be shared.
General David Ejoor was very clear on how the
northern military officers were able to use the oil
from the �South-South� as the basis of hanging on to
power especially after 1966. The analysis of General
David Ejoor in his memoir, Reminiscences (Lagos,
Malthouse 1988) still remains one of the classics in
the northern domination of the armed forces, oil and
politics of Nigeria. Luckily he still told the
country that same truth recently, maybe because he was
surprised that our people are still ignorant of the
political agenda of others and maybe because he just
wanted to tell our people what we could do.
It is unfortunate that the political and
military leaders from the �South-South� in the past
adopted the policy of benign neglect to the problems
of the �South-South�. Is it late to ask of the
legacies of the retired Admirals, Generals and Air
Marshals who are parading themselves as political
leaders from the �South-South�? Maybe when they look
back today, I wonder how they feel? Would it occur
to them that they abandoned their people in the past?
Did they know that their colleagues from other parts
of the country were �fleecing� the people of the oil
producing areas? General Ejoor tried to address
these issues and I hope others would do so in their
I recall an incident at a seminar in one of the
University campuses when I had to face this problem.
An Ogoni chap with whom I was appearing raised the
question that the Edo officers such as the former Vice
President Admiral Augustus Aikhomu had never shown
interest in the plight of the oil producing areas.
This was in 1997. His argument was that Edo people
did not understand the plight of the people of the oil
Was this not why Chief EK Clark would have
wanted Edo State removed from the Niger Delta? It is
one issue to which the only surviving nationalist,
Chief Anthony Enahoro has never said a word. Does he
understand it? What does he advise President
Obasanjo on in his new capacity as a Member of the
Presidential Advisory Council of the PDP on the vexed
question of resource control? This is a sore point
in the relationship between the Edo North and Edo
As someone told me, the Edo North and Edo
Central are not interested in the politics of oil
since they are not oil producing communities. This
is �politics without vision�. Even with the Edo
South the situation is not clear.
How many of you read the debate between Hon
Ehiogie West-Idahosa and Dr. Egharevba over the
disbursement of money by the NDDC? I had earlier
talked of how one actor frustrates the goal attainment
of another actor in Abuja. This is a clear case.
If both of them from Edo South could not agree on the
disbursement modality of oil money within the Edo
South, how would the Edo North and Edo Central feel?
Edo State is still to make the issue of
resource control a State Vision to which all office
holders and aspiring office holders would be
committed. One is shocked that the aspiring office
holders are not interested in the matter today because
money to the State means more for the present
Governor. This is shortsighted.
There is also another feeling in the Edo North
and Edo Center that proceed from oil taken to its
logical conclusion, would benefit the Edo South, being
home to the oil producing communities. This also is
not only shortsighted, it is also anti-Edo.
What we want to see in the manifesto of all
political parties and their candidates in Edo State
from now on is a commitment to the principles and
practice of �local control over local resources�.
At the invitation of one the active members of
the Edo Union, Ms. Osemetiti Okosun, I responded to
the question �who owns oil�. My response turned out
to be a three-part essay on the �Politics of Oil�.
I am glad to say that the policy prescription in the
third part of the essay is still on the www.
Nigerdeltacongress.com, as a major policy position for
It is not a secret that the political leaders
in the �South-South� had my prescription in my paper,
�Agenda of Liberation�. For your information and
because of the importance attached to it, it is still
being displayed as the first item on the top left hand
column of the WWW. NIGERDELTACONGRESS.COM. Some
politicians have been using it as the basis for
debating the �Resource Control� in Nigeria. It ended
with just debate. It is sad to say that no one is
using the Agenda as the basis for political action.
The Agenda still remains the Vision for the
If they were to follow my advice, the President
should have been put on notice since 1999 by the
political leaders of the �South-South� based on my
prescription in �Agenda of Liberation� that the issue
of �Resource Control� was fundamental to the continued
association of the �South-South� with the PDP under
President Obasanjo�s leadership. As soon as he took
the matter to the court, President Obasanjo should
have been told that using the court to address the
issue would be political suicide for him and the PDP
PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS: CHIEF OBASANJO 1999 AND 2003
You are a better judge of the performance of
President Obasanjo since 1999 in Edo land. Their
leaders induced the Edo people into the Obasanjo 1999.
They were never told what he promised to do for
them. But in preparation for the 2003, Edo State is
in the category of States that are or should happy
with the President because of what he did for them in
the past four years. This was in the report
submitted to the President in preparation for 2003.
Is this Chief Anenih�s report?
It is my counsel that as part of the Vision
of Edo, the Edo people should have the opportunity
today to weigh all the candidates for the various
offices in 2003 based on the past performances and the
concrete promise for the future. Not to do this or
to be denied this opportunity would amount to the
betrayal of the future generation of the people of Edo
State. The Edo National Association is the proper
body to demand for this.
The same political leaders that provided
Candidate Obasanjo his Campaign Headquarters in 1999
were not able to tell President Obasanjo to take Oredo
as another home. These political leaders should be
ashamed of what became of the Headquarters of
�Obasanjo for President, 1999�.
It is part of the political legacy of President
Obasanjo that he commenced his political journey from
the House donated by Chief Gabriel Igbinedion that he
used as the Campaign Headquarters in 1999.
Do you know that that House is a stone throw
from the residence of Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia?
Do you know that the House is now taken over
by one of the �lakes� in Oredo?
Do you know that a House in Abuja for his 2003
is now designated �Legacy House�. Where he made his
historical feat should have been designated a
historical site and made a �Tourist Resort� and even
protected by law. That would have been the place he
would have been using every year to show case through
workshop and seminar, etc. on what he calls the
�Democracy Day�. What do we find today?
Who should one blame for this neglect of Edo,
Obasanjo or our political leaders?
The political leaders of Edo were so na�ve to
act on faith that candidate Obasanjo on assumption of
office in May 1999 would recall how he started. The
northern political/military leaders that engineered
his emergence are making demands. When they do not
get the kind of response they want, they turn round to
accuse the man they installed President Obasanjo that
he betrayed the north. Our political leaders who
provided him with his Campaign Headquarters are afraid
to say so.
The northern leaders are always reminding the
President that for them he would have not been the
candidate and President of Nigeria. Can we ever say
so? Why? Was that what Dr. Ogbemudia was trying
to tell the Edo people?
OGBEMUDIA�s QUEST FOR MIDWEST OR EDO PRESIDENT
Lest I be misunderstood, I am not against an
Edo person or Dr. Ogbemudia for that matter becoming
the President of Nigeria. I am not na�ve; I am a
realist. To be President of Nigeria, there are too
many issues that I hinted above. On what was
attributed to Dr. Ogbemudia, my view is that he was
going about it the wrong way for obvious reasons.
Dr. Ogbemudia should have resigned from the PDP partly
because of the President�s non-performance and partly
because he betrayed the people of Edo State. The Edo
National Association should be courageous enough to
call on Dr. Ogbemudia to resign from the PDP if he is
dissatisfied with the performance of President
Obasanjo on behalf of the Edo people.
Dr. Ogbemudia should have initiated the formation of
another political formation or in the alternative he
should have formally initiated the joining of another
political party. He should then seek the nomination
of that party and challenge President Obasanjo. Can
Dr. Ogbemudia should first remove Edo State and the
South-South from the category of NPPA (i.e. the
Non-President Producing Area of Nigeria). That means
that Dr. Guobadia would and in fact should have been
removed and a Northerner or a Westerner should have
been made the replace him before commencing his
Therefore, on whether an Edo person should seek the
Presidency now, I am a realist. This is not and
should not be the immediate goal of Edos under the
prevailing system of political parties and under the
prevailing ethnic configurations in the country. For
the �Future of Edos in the Nigerian Body Politic�, I
would counsel that the Edo National Association should
discourage those who want to use �seeking Presidential
nomination from Edo land� for their personal end.
In my appreciation of the ongoing political practice
in the country since 1999 at Houston in November 2001,
I had reason to categorize the �South-South� and the
�Southeast� as being on the �loser� column. These
two areas never had a political party of their own and
never had a Vision compared with the north and the
southwest. To me, it would be unrealistic to base
the �Future of Edos in Nigerian Body Politic� on the
alliance of two losers. Has the situation changed
today as we proceed to 2003? Do the political
leaders of the southeast or the south-south have
political party or parties they could call their own?
What is their message to the country beside the urge
to replace Obasanjo? You are better judges.
NO. OF PARTIES AND FATE OF MINORITIES
A six-party system is untidy and would further
weaken the power of the minorities in Nigeria and
enhance the omnipotence of the hegemons. It is in
the best interest of the minorities in the north and
in the south operating as the Fourth Dimension to
operate under the two party system.
Again speaking from experience, modesty aside,
it was under the instrumentality of the two party
system that I was planning to use for the nomination
of two illustrious sons of the old Bendel in the past.
I can assure you therefore that it easier to canvass
for and in fact work for the position of President or
Vice President or Chairmanship of a Party through the
interplay of democratic forces. This is where an Edo
person would play the �Modern Fulani.
It would be daydreaming to think that through
the zoning method, or through the political parties
not founded by you, an Edo person in particular and a
south-south person in general would be a President of
Nigeria. If it is zoned to the south-south, it is
more likely going to go to the largest group in the
zone. From the above population, the Ijaw would
naturally lay claim to the slot. Afterall the Ijaw
is already laying claim to the fourth place in
Nigeria. With the natural endowment the Ijaw would
want to do away with the tripod or replace the Igbo.
Without attempting to blow ones trumpet, I was
involved in the attempt to make two illustrious sons
of old Bendel State to become Presidential candidates
(Olorogun Chief Michael Ibru and Dr. Sam. Ogbemudia)
in 1988 and 1993 respectively.
In the past, the two political parties had two
Edo persons at different times as the National
Chairman. Chief Tom Ikimi was the National Chairman
of the National Republican Convention (NRC) between
1989 and 1992. Chief Tony Anenih was the National
Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1993.
For the �future of Edos in the Body Politic of
Nigeria� is inextricably linked with what we are and
with what others call us. If we are men of our word
and others know us to be so, they would be prepared to
do business with us. This is my first concluding
The fortune of the Edo people is linked with fortune
of the atomized groups in the south in the first
instance and with the atomized groups in the north.
This is the genesis of the �Fourth Dimension�.
It is my view that Edo should be in the leadership in
developing a political plan for the �Fourth
Dimension�. This is the only way we can avoid the
danger of being swallowed up by the majority groups in
The fact of a �Fourth Dimension� does not mean that
the majority groups should be avoided like a plague.
Once a political plan has been worked out, the plan
should be worked out later with other users of power
within the leaders of other three Dimensions.
As part of the conclusion, I would want to leave you
with two challenges.
The first is that of unity and solidarity.
Those who would breach the �unity and solidarity�
injunction would be visited by the kind of sanction
imposed on those who would vote No in 1963 during the
Referendum for the creation of Midwestern Region.
According to Oba Akenzua at Agbor on March 12 1963:
Whoever does not drop his or her paper into the
White Ballot Box will
be condemned by future generations. Even those
who die before the
plebiscite takes place will be condemned in
theOther World; if they die
with the bad intention of voting against or
persuading people to vote
against the creation of a Mid-West Region.
Can we apply this injunction to the present
Edo leaders that anyone who threatens the break up of
the Edo unity and solidarity would be visited by the
same injunction against those who would not support
the aspiration of freedom that our forefathers
preached and gave us in 1963.
The second challenge is that of wanting to be
the �Modern Fulani� in Nigeria. The modern Fulani
is expansive; he is an empire builder. This is not
through war but through some networking. But this is
possible after putting your home in order. We should
stop all these attempts at dismemberment of the Edo
State with the earliest opportunity.
We should defend not just the territory of Edo
State but also the people within and without the four
walls of Edo State. The Edos cannot have a future in
Nigeria if the Edo people do not have secured
Should Nigeria break up today, the neighboring
States would lay claim to parts of the Edo State in
the North, South, East and West. This is what
Alhaji Mohammed Ighile calls �encroachment� that has
not assumed a pride of place in the politics of Edo
State so far. To Alhaji Ighile, what you call
�encroachment� with respect to boundaries of Edo South
is equally affecting other parts of the State and yet
politicians are ignoring the matter. You should add
the cultural encroachment to the land encroachment.
The Edo National Association should appreciate
five principles governing a State, whether in the
international community or in a federation.
(1) a secured boundary,
(2) a people,
(3) a system of government,
(4) an economic base and
(5) a system of transportation and communication.
The boundary of Edo State is a problem and the people of Edo State are
changing everyday. Your �Contingency Plan� should
deal with these principles as they apply to Edo State.
To recap, may I state that �The Future of Edos
in Nigerian Body Politics� depends on
what we as Edos individually and collectively stand
for in the multi-ethnic society and what do other
ethnic groups in Nigeria know us by;
the resolution of Edo identity crisis;
the avoidance of intra-Edo intrigue and the commitment
to the goal of unity and solidarity in dealing with
the cultivation of relationship with others in
concentric circles with Edo in the center, beginning
with our relationship within the former Midwestern
Region, then the south-south and later the minority
caucus and finally with others in Nigeria;
the setting up of Think Tank on Vision;
the setting up of a Political Action Committee to
guide and monitor the implementation of Vision
the adoption of the tactics of �Modern Fulani�.
STUDY AND DEBATE ISSUES
I purposely went to town to develop this paper
on the firm belief that the Edo National Association
is actually concerned with dealing with the complexe,
the Future of Edos In Nigerian Body Politic. The
length is intended to provide the Association with
enough materials as a road map for coming to terms
with the problem.
I do not expect the members would be able to
digest the issues in the address during the San
Francisco Convention. Consequently, I want to
strongly urge the Edo National Association during this
Convention to set up the machinery to examine the
issues raised in the address.
May I also advise that the Edo National
Association should send the paper to the various
branches of the Association to devote some time to
examine the issues in detail.
I am willing to engage the members of the
Association on the issues raised in the address. May
I plead that the comments should be directed to the
issues raised and not on personalities.
I thank you for the opportunity extended to me to
appear before you and bare my mind on the complex
issue of �The Future of Edos in Nigerian Body
I wish you a successful deliberation.